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Openreach Test XGS-PON Ahead of Symmetric FTTP Speed Trial

Monday, February 24th, 2020 (4:40 pm) - Score 11,717
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Openreach (BT) has announced trials of a new Fibre-to-the-Premises (FTTP) based broadband ISP solution that has been “designed with business customers in mind,” which so far as we can tell appears to be laying the ground work for their future symmetric speed tiers going up to 1000Mbps.

At present the operator’s “full fibre” network covers 2.1 million premises across the United Kingdom and is set to reach 4 million by March 2021, with an ambition to achieve 15 million premises by around 2025. Despite this their current crop of GPON / XG-PON based lines remain limited to a peak asymmetric speed of 1000Mbps download (220Mbps upload) for businesses (consumer tiers top out at 1000Mbps down / 115Mbps up – available from 23rd March 2020).

Last year we revealed that Openreach were also mulling over proposals to trial a new range of premium FTTP lines for businesses (here), which would harness the latest XGS-PON platform to achieve symmetric speeds of 550Mbps and 1000Mbps. Obviously these will come at a much greater cost than their consumer focused plans and attach a higher priority rate for data.

As usual the operator’s latest briefing doesn’t mention anything much about the new trial (here), although we know from our sources that it appears to be focused upon testing their new XGS-PON platform (i.e. build, deployment process, performance etc.). Take note that we’ve seen them use kit from both Nokia and Huawei for this (a third supplier is still being sought).

The interesting thing about this is that initially the trial only appears to make use of Openreach’s existing FTTP speed tiers, but going forward it states a plan to offer a free upgrade from 500/165 (download / upload) to 550/550 and from 1000/220 to 1000/1000 respectively. Clearly the long rumoured symmetric speed tiers are about to become real.

The new platform should make it easier for the operator to remain competitive with a growing number of alternative network rivals, many of which have been building with symmetric speeds in mind from day one. We’ll keep an eye on this and report back when some solid details emerge, such as the first prices.

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34 Responses
  1. Avatar David says:

    If they can do 1000/1000 for less tan £600 a month in VAT I will have it – right now that’s what I pay with Giganet

    1. Avatar Jonny says:

      Gigabit leased lines will run you less than that so I’d be amazed if this is more than a couple hundred each month by the time it makes it to retail.

    2. Avatar David says:

      True. I am 15 months into 36 so when the time comes I might be able to get something like this who knows. I think I am having to use some of BT anyway there is no City Fibre around here – when there is you can get 1000/1000 for £200 a month so I assume this is where BT will be wanting to compete?

  2. Avatar Zac Tolley says:

    Still waiting for isp’s to announce products based on the consumer 1gbps

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Giganet has done a limited one and we know for a fact that BT will also be launching new tiers for it, although the status of other ISPs is unclear. Smaller providers in particular may find it harder to adapt in the short-term.

    2. Avatar Zac Tolley says:

      Yup. I’m on Zen and no reply from them on the subject but I’m hoping that they offer it, if not straight away then soon.

      I wonder if it makes sense for all new builds to be based on XGS-PON so they don’t install kit that is already using an ageing tech. Are we early on enough in the FTTP roll out that this makes sense or should openreach carry on rolling out the current equipment and only goto XGS-PON in areas with business customers that benefit from the asymmetric speeds?

    3. Avatar A_Builder says:

      ATM using XGS on everything would be expensive.

      The price of XGS has been steadily dropping.

      I can see a point where it is XGS by default but right now the cost differential would be huge.

    4. Avatar David says:

      Giganet are £199 a month Inc VAT when in a City Fibre area. I am on not in a CF area but I am on Giganet it’s £598 a month with VAT and unfortunately I need that for my business services. Would love to shave £398 off a month!

    5. Avatar James Band says:

      I agree. I’ve had to use 4G data to get any internet where I am and need the internet for work. ADSL was only 2 Mbps here. I can see now 2 months ago, my area was declared FTTP ready by Openreach. It said on the DSL checker up to 330, but last week suddenly changed to “up to 1000”.

      Needless to say thrilled by the prospect of 1000Mbps. What I don’t understand is the pricing by BT right now. Vodafone (current provider on FTTC) are offering Gigafast via CityFibre for what… £40-48 a month for 900Mbps (and that’s symmetrical). BT (or anyone else) via Openreach will surely have to base their 1000Mbps price at a similar level – e.g. £48, otherwise they’d be giving an open goal to Vodafone/CityFibre surely?

      Charging £80 or something for 1000 if Vodafone are charging half the price surely wouldn’t look good! The price right now of £49.99 by BT for 300 seems bizarre enough as it is.

  3. Avatar Jim says:

    Prime Fibre have been offering a full fibre network in West London, that provides a 1gb symmetrical link for the last 3 years.

  4. Avatar Lee says:

    Here’s me struggling to even get 20mbs unless I want to go with that crappy cable company.

    1. Avatar David says:

      “That Crappy Cable company” used to give me over 500Mbps 24/7 i would love to have that again but that crappy cable company aren’t in my area (i’m 1/4 of a mile in the wrong direction)

    2. Avatar fttp4life says:

      VM are trash, their uploads are worse than my EE sim! im on fttp 1gb down and up for £30 – heck even my friends Gfast has 40mb up!! that Crappy company..

    3. Avatar David says:

      Are you spending your pocket money on mushrooms?

      £30 my arse.. prove it or GTFO as the kiddies say 😉

    4. Avatar FTTP4LIFE says:

      @DAVID YOU CAN GTFO – HERE IS THE PROOF -https://www.talktalk.co.uk/shop/ufo/broadband

      IM A OLD CUSTOMER ON THE £30 PRICE NOW YOU CAN APOLOGIZE PESANT

  5. Avatar Kristina says:

    I appreciate that businesses need it but what about people like me?! I’m blind and have agoraphobia I don’t leave my home. And I currently have two routers two phone lines and they both equal 6mb in total and children have a paper free school and they struggle to get on their accounts. So I’m paying £16.99 each for my lines in one property how are BT handling anything I plan to write to ofcom and ask them to stop putting pressure on the ISP and have words with BT as some days I’ve no internet at all it’s so intermittent and not like I can read a book or go for a wee wonder. I would love an outside source to visit my home and see why it is like it is

    1. Avatar joe says:

      Hopefully you can order USO next month for a big speed boost.

    2. Avatar The Facts says:

      What’s your postcode?

  6. Avatar Matthew Skipsey says:

    Giganet will be signing up to this trial in Salisbury.

    Pricing, products, SLAs all to be confirmed.

    As Giganet have unbundled the Salisbury exchange, we’ve already connected to the new 8 x 10GE FTTP cablelinks for the standard GPON build.
    This will require a further cablelink to the new XG-PON switch.
    So many cables!
    Salisbury is being spoilt!

    As a tease, we may be making some changes to our previously announced Salisbury 500Mb and 1Gb (900Mb) consumer/SME FTTP prices…and simplifying the speed options.
    Stay tuned!

    Matt
    CTO and Head of Giganet

    1. Avatar David says:

      Sort your stuff out in South Yorkshire Matthew, Sheffield has you with CityFibre I am 4 miles North East and I can’t get anything but your top price product. And then maybe people like me who pay a arm and a leg every month might well be allowed to have an “tease” with our pricing also! I guarantee if you haven’t done so by the time I end my contract i’ll be taking my (pocket change to you, but a massive expensive to me I know) £22,000 per contact to BT or anyone who can beat you!

    2. Avatar EdinburghHopeful says:

      Matt please bring this to Edinburgh

      any plans for it?

    3. Avatar Matthew Skipsey says:

      David,

      I feel your pain.
      Sadly we have no plans to upgrade Openreach exchanges that aren’t in close proximity to the ones we’re in today. So Sheffield/Yorkshire is sadly out.
      However, you do need to be able to get the underlying Openreach FTTP service at your property firstly, (and not be on the ECI FTTP kit – as this cannot provide the speed options greater than 330/50Mb) before then an Openreach wholesaler can sell you the 500Mb/1G options.

      With regards to our CityFibre relationship, today – we’re only providing business CityFibre FTTP services and this is available across a few 10s of cities that CityFibre are in, including a few areas in Yorkshire. We can offer both FTTP (GPON) broadband, as well as nailed up leased line services wholesaling the CityFibre network. These are business-grade services, so 5hr 24×7 fix SLA, uncontended bandwidth in the case of the leased line services, minimum bandwidth guarantees for the FTTP product etc.
      Naturally there are more expensive than the residential-grade GPON via the Openreach network, or indeed CityFibre’s residential (FTTH) network that is currently being sold via Vodafone – however exclusivity is changing now that CityFibre and Vodafone have renegotiated the contract.

      Good luck!

      Matt

    4. Avatar David says:

      HI Matthew

      If you knew your products you would know I AM on a business product! – ain’t no consumer going to pay what I do 1Gbps or not! Well I just hope a cheaper alternative comes along in the next 2 years is all I am saying. It’s 2020 and we don’t all live in London or Portsmouth or Southampton – the cities where there seem to be about 4 networks all trying to get the same customers.

      As for Yorkshire being out – that’s not good for you – but I am sure BT and others won’t sit on their laurels in the same way.

      Virgin media are close but no cigar – should they ever decide to come closer i’ll get a line with them instead. That’s the more realistic Option I know.

    5. Avatar CarlT says:

      Hi David / Pete.

    6. Avatar David says:

      Hi, I’m David – thanks for the mention.

      Matthew – if you are feeling the pain and you are in a position to actually do something about it – there is no hope for us!

  7. Avatar André says:

    I’m on the 500/160 package with Cerberus.
    Would lovely to go 500/500 if the price stayed the same 🙂

    1. Avatar David says:

      Why should it? It don’t cost them the same to give it to you..

    2. Avatar Matthew SKipsey says:

      Stating the obvious – that’s very unlikely!

      Commercially – this is a more premium offering to get a symmetrical service.
      They will also likely only offer this in business districts where customers may need this type of service (appreciate some home users may have big requirements!! ;)).

      Technically – you will have to be connected to an XG-PON OLT and have an upgraded ONT in your home/business.
      Openreach have not announced how/if they will then go around to all their GPON FTTP exchanges and upgrade at huge expense the OLTs (the bit in the exchange that terminates all the fibre to the home/business connections).
      Therefore, my take is that this is going to be focused on business districts to begin with, and then in years to come, when people need 10Gb FTTP (XG-PON), then a gradual replacement exercise will take place.
      At least at this point it won’t involve digging more fibre into the ground.

      Matt

    3. Avatar A_Builder says:

      @Matthew SKipsey

      That is exactly how I read it.

      XGSGPON shortly in business areas.

      Then upgrade on a demand lead basis to existing areas.

      Although there will be a point in time when the price point of XGS falls where it will be cheaper to fit it straight off.

      Be interesting to see what happens with the ECI estate and wether that leapfrogs from the 330/50 GPON to XGS or wether it goes from 300m GPON -> 1G GPON.

      As you say – at least all the fibre is the same.

  8. Avatar hurryupbt says:

    Mark whens Bt launching 1gbps?? and what price?

  9. Avatar James Band says:

    Will the pricing for FTTP of 1000Mbps by ISPs be reasonable for consumers post this March 2020 date? And what about October as per a recent article on here? Seems like it would be embarrassing to tell consumers it’s £70-80 a month versus Cityfibre?

    I’ve had to use 4G data to get any internet where I am and need the internet for work. With more people moving back home, gonna need fast internet. ADSL was only 2 Mbps here and unreliable (hence I used multiple 4G mifis). I can see now 2 months ago, my area was declared FTTP ready by Openreach. It said on the DSL checker up to 330, but last week suddenly changed to “up to 1000”.

    Needless to say, I’m thrilled by the prospect of 1000Mbps. What I don’t understand is the pricing by BT right now. Vodafone (current provider on FTTC) are offering Gigafast via CityFibre for what… £40-48 a month for 900Mbps (and that’s symmetrical). BT (or anyone else like Zen) via Openreach will surely have to base their 1000Mbps price at a similar level – e.g. £48, otherwise they’d be giving an open goal to Vodafone/CityFibre surely?

    Charging £80 or something for 1000 if Vodafone are charging half the price surely wouldn’t look good! The price right now of £49.99 by BT for 300 seems bizarre enough as it is. What would the national pricing structure be for 1000Mbps on Openreach?

    1. Avatar CarlT says:

      What looks good isn’t relevant. If Openreach undercut everybody’s wholesale prices Ofcom will be all over them.

      The national pricing structure is on the Openreach website.

      Up to 1000Mbit/s /115Mbit/s 01/04/2020 375.36 per year – cost to CPs. Add VAT, ISPs’ own costs, etc, on top alongside some profit and you get the retail pricing.

    2. Avatar James Band says:

      CarlT

      In that instance, Vodafone (via CityFibre) is selling the 900 Mbps product for £40-48 a month. Surely BT will be forced to sell at £50 a month maximum without having egg on their face for a much much higher price? Would Vodafone offer an Openreach FTTP (nothing on their website) alongside “Gigafast”?

      My question is about ISP prices. No matter where the Fibre comes from, ultimately retailers are selling with nationwide pricing to consumers and would surely want to maintain/increase market share. Thus I’m asking what’s the likely BT price given the likes of Vodafone are now offering their product. Virgin Media today launched one for £62 which doesn’t look good up against the former. BT retail would surely have to set the price for FTTP 1000 at £45-£50 to look competitive and get customers signed up.

      Likely BT price post March and again post October 2020?

    3. Avatar CarlT says:

      Again Openreach can’t undercut alternative networks and BT can’t undercut other retail operators.

      You are desperate for more regulation. That same regulation ensures Openreach will struggle to compete on price with CityFibre.

      That’s how it is. Unless Ofcom deregulate, something you may not want given how you want ISPs bankrupted for just looking at customers the wrong way, it isn’t happening.

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